This week my family and I are at Word Alive 2015.
On Day 2 we enjoyed coffee in the hub (a Christian pub, according to Joshua), bouncing on inflatables, and basking in the sunshine (!).
Here are my notes from Day 2…
Morning Bible Reading
Romans starts by making it clear that it is a letter by Paul, a servant, about Jesus.
- Jesus, God’s Son born as a man.
- who has been shown to be divine by his resurrection.
Paul says three ‘I am’ statements…
- I am under obligation to share the Gospel.
- I am eager to share the Gospel.
- I am not ashamed of the Gospel.
‘Gospel’ means big, momentous news. God’s Gospel is momentous news about a righteous God who sets unrighteous people to be right with him in a righteous way. Romans answers the question: how can I be right with God?
The bad news: the unrighteous cannot make themselves right with God
Every worldview or faith position needs to address the problem of evil. Likewise, a right worldview needs to have a full knowledge of the human condition as well as a full knowledge of God, and a full knowledge of his Grace in Christ.
We musn’t limit the problem of the human condition to being just the condition of sin itself – the problem is that God is against us because of our sin (v18ff). God’s passive judgment is that he ‘gave us over’…
- to impurity (v24)
- to scrambled sexuality (v26)
- to a depraved mind (v28-29)
The sum of this judgment is that mankind, made in God’s image (of cleanliness, order, relationship, love), is reduced to being nothing more than animals (unclean, disordered, broken, depraved).
God’s passive wrath is being shown now. God’s active wrath is being stored up bready to be poured out on the Last Day in judgment of what we have done, and God does not show favouritism (2v11). Humanity will be judged by what we do:
- the ignorant: those without the law still have their conscience (2v12-16).
- May sometimes excuse them because they honoured God by following their conscience
- But will also condemnn them when they did not follow their God-given conscience.
- the knowledgable: those with the law do not fully obey the law (2v17-24)
- the self-righteous: those with outward righteousness of deeds do not have inward righteousness of heart (2v25-29)
Every counter-argument or objection is answered by either a real assessment of humanity or a full awareness of God’s holiness and perfect judgment (3v1-18). And so we are left with a sober reality of our condition before God: that no one will be declared righteous in his sight by any self-referential means. Instead we become fully aware of our sin (3v19-20).
Every worldview or faith-position places human action as the solution to the human condition. Only Christianity starts with human inability and places divine action and ability as the only solution to the human condition.
8.30pm Evening Celebration
Your Kingdom Come
The mundane matters of everyday life can often overshadow and replace the spiritual matters of the kingdom.
There is nothing more important or more significant than for God’s people to be praying to the Father ‘your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.
Humanity was designed to be connected to something bigger and more significant than or own existence. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus makes this clear and pulls the curtains back on living in the Kingdom of God: the thing that mankind deeply desires on our very being, yet also the thing that Satan and our sin desperately wants to keep us from.
The Lord has appointed prayer to be the means by which God will bring in his Kingdom and change the work as people bow the knee to Jesus and are saved from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of the Son he loves (Colossians 1:13-14).
Jesus coming to us is the King returning to claim back his Kingdom that rightly belongs to him (Matthew 4:17), first in salvation and then in judgement.
God’s Kingdom in us
Even if we are a follower of Jesus, we are still not living fully and physically in God’s kingdom and are stuck with sin. We bring or sin is into every situation: church, marriage, family, friends, work. Until we are saved from the presence of sin, we need to actively allow God to save us from the power of sin by daily coming to the King and declaring him to King of us, and this all the more as we wait for Jesus to return.
God’s Kingdom in others
Humanity is born into sin and into the kingdom of darkness. Each one of us is personally riddled with sin in our very being. Each one of us needs a new King, and needs to belong to a new kingdom.
God’s Kingdom in the universe
Each one of us looks at the world around us and our hearts ache, saying, ‘It’s not supposed to be this way!’
The King’s will be done
Satan and our sin in us deceives us into thinking that our will, our desires are right but actually will lead us to death. God reveals himself to us in Jesus and reveals his will for us in his Word. Living in God’s Kingdom means laying aside our own will and gladly submitting to Jesus’ good, perfect and (often) confusing will. It is how we demonstrate our trust in Jesus as King.
How can we be sure that if we submit to God’s will then things will turn out okay? Simply remember that Jesus prayed this prayer first in the garden before his death and resurrection: ‘your will be done’.